A Wark Street apartment building with a history of violence and drug activity has been reported by police to the province’s civil forfeiture office (CFO).
Since the investigation is ongoing, Victoria police won’t release any details about the property, but a quarterly report states it has generated significant disruption to the surrounding neighbourhood for years, with officers investigating a number of serious offenses including assaults, drug trafficking and weapons calls.
Officers from patrol, strike force, the crime reduction unit and the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team have all attended the building on multiple occasions. Police have attempted to work with the property owner to clean up the building, but say efforts to solve the problems have been resisted.
A lengthy report has now been submitted to the CFO.
“It really does affect the community in a negative way. There’s things that can go on in residences which leave the neighbours not feeling safe in their own neighbourhood. Those are things we take fairly seriously,” said Const. Allison Johnson with the Victoria police focused enforcement team.
“We frequently get contacted by residents of neighbours where they are feeling like their use and enjoyment of their own property is being affected by neighbouring properties.”
Johnson estimates there are maybe three to five problem properties with criminal activity that police are keeping an eye on at any given time. Officers also keep tabs on abandoned properties to make sure they don’t attract squatters.
When dealing with a problem property, Johnson said police do everything in their power to remedy the situation. The civil forfeiture office is only called as a last resort.
“It’s not something that happens that frequently,” she said.
The CFO confirmed it has received the file, but can’t provide further comment as the matter is now before the courts.
In a written response, a government spokesperson said the court may make an order with any number of terms relating to the preservation, management or disposition of all or a portion of the property until the final resolution of the civil forfeiture proceeding.
Since 2006, the CFO has received 3,214 referalls overall. Of those files, 149 have come from Victoria police.
On one occasion, the CFO forfeited a problem house in a Victoria neighbourhood that police had visited 206 times in eight years, including raids by tactical teams that turned up weapons and drugs.
The CFO met with neighbours and took affidavits from them about how their lives had been negatively impacted. A settlement with the owner was negotiated to facilitate the removal of the problem from the neighbourhood as quickly as possible.
Victoria police encourage residents to report problem properties in their neighbourhood through a new online reporting system. The address is then assigned to a community resource officer representing the area.
For more information visit vicpd.ca.